A Black transgender woman from Chicago was shot to death earlier this month, marking the second recent murder of a trans woman in the city.
Davarea Alexander, 28, who was also known as Tyianna, was one of two individuals who were shot and killed near a railroad line at 817 West 75th Street on January 6, police told Gay City News. The other victim, who was 31 years old, was shot in the lower left side and upper left bicep.
So far, there’s not enough information available to indicate whether the killing of Alexander was motivated by anti-trans bias. The killing came just weeks after a different trans woman, Courtney “Eshay” Key, was fatally shot to death in Chicago on Christmas.
“It’s really difficult to prove unless you have someone in custody,” Sally Brown, a public information officer for the Chicago Police Department, said in an interview with Gay City News. “It’s just so hard to classify something as a hate crime without a lot of evidence pointing to that.”
Chicago police — who originally misgendered Alexander — did not directly respond to a question about whether the 31-year-old victim was transgender. The Chicago Police Department currently does not have a process for collecting a victim’s gender identity. Instead, they conflate gender with a person’s sex assigned at birth. Brown said officers were not trying to “insult” the victim but were documenting the sex listed on her government-issued ID.
“I know people were upset about that at first, but that’s the reasoning behind it. We’re very sensitive to those things,” Brown said. “It’s just they have to put something down on the report like that.”
Meanwhile, police have yet to make headway in solving Key’s death. Nobody has been taken into custody and sources told the Chicago Tribune the motive is unclear, but Key’s family believes she was killed because she was a trans woman. The family is requesting that the department investigate the case as a hate crime.
The Brave Space Alliance, a Black, trans-led LGBTQ advocacy group, denounced the ongoing trend of transphobic violence as they vowed to assist with the costs of Alexander’s funeral.
“Within the last month, Chicago has lost two Black trans women to transphobic violence,” the organization noted on Twitter. “Courtney Eshay Key and Davarea Alexander were murdered in our city, and now, once again, we must mourn as a community. All Black trans lives matter, and yet we are increasingly faced with systems and individuals who speak those words but do nothing to prove their commitment to Black and trans liberation.”
Alexander’s killing contributes to a deadly start to a new year after the Human Rights Campaign tracked the worst year on record for murders targeting transgender and non-binary individuals, with most of those killings targeting trans women of color.
“Our community members are being murdered because our lives are devalued, our power is feared, and our truth is revolutionary,” the organization added. “We will be here for the families of every member of our community lost to transphobic violence. We love our community, and we will never be silent in the face of the loss of yet another one of our sisters.”
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